Coal-fired Nostalgia

I grew up in a coal-mining town in Andhra Pradesh. Actually, three of them-Kothagudem, Bellampalli and Ramagundam, where Singareni Collieries had its mines. This was a remote set of towns, what you might call one-theatre towns, with Hindi films coming in six months after their Mumbai premiere.

The earliest film I remember seeing was Jewel thief. There was a club in each of these towns (a British legacy, as were the mines). This was the centre of social life, and sporting life. We kids of all ages played a lot of Badminton, Table Tennis, and used the swimming pool extensively when summer came along. Some billiards too, when allowed by the elders.

There used to be films screened outdoors in 16 mm with a whirring projector. I remember seeing a film called Aulad in which Mehmood donned a chaplinesque costume and sang Jodi hamari jamega kaise jani with Aruna Irani. Also remember an English film starring Shashi Kapoor.

On festive occasions we had parties, where the food was usually good. On Christmas Eve there was a fancy dress and I once became a coal-miner, with a dhoti, and a miner's lamp. Santa also gave us gifts, and it was fun.

We did a lot of cycling those days, and played all kinds of games outdoors. NTPC putting up a big new Super-thermal power plant was a sight worth seeing in Ramagundam, and so was a wide Godavari river. 

To get out of Kothagudem by train (on steam engine trains), we travelled through quaintly named stations such as Tadkalpudi, Bethampudi and reached a junction called Dornakal, which was a gateway to Delhi and Madras. Similarly, Kazipet was always on the way from Ramagundam to Hyderabad. There was a metre gauge line from Kacheguda (Hyderabad) to Ajmer via Indore, and we travelled on it once to visit an aunt in Indore.


Raghu N said…
Nice article, I have similar memories of life at Kothagudem. Enjoyed reading it.
My (our family’s) unforgettable association with Singareni Collieries and Kothagudem for 30 years has prompted me to post few similar articles to my blog – ‘Raghu’s column!’ Here is the link to these articles, I hope you will find them interesting:
Rajendra said…
Thanks, Raghu..will read it soon.

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